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Emergent Africa

Inspired by George Ayittey's book 'Africa Unchained'.

Updated: 2016-10-23T11:09:13.254-04:00


Stokvels, burial societies key in economic growth


Gift Ndolwane writes:
In South Africa, stokvels and burial societies can play a role in eliminating poverty and growing wealth in line with the National Development Plan. According to a survey undertaken by African Response, stokvels are a robust market in the area of traditional collective saving and are estimated to be worth some R44 billion.
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Is Africa Rising or Reeling?


Ken Opalo writes:
I’ve always considered binary analyses of a continent of 55 countries as evidence of intellectual laziness. These analyses are nothing but a repackaging of 18th century views of the Continent as a place full of simple peoples, who live simple lives, that can be packaged into simple narratives. As I have tried to show with the Ethiopian case, what is happening in the country is complicated. And it is silly to try and project this onto the rest of the Continent.
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The paradox of market-dominant minorities in Africa


They can also be indigenous.Brian Klaas writing in How We Made It:
...Countries in sub-Saharan Africa are scattered with ‘market-dominant minorities’. Amy Chua popularised that term in her bestselling 2004 book The World on Fire, which argued that the twinning of democracy and capitalism in developing countries inevitably results in turmoil and volatility. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, a market-dominant minority is more likely to be subjected to hostility when the government no longer sees it as an economic and political ally.
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Mingling Art with Science


From molecular nanotechnologist and Nobel Prize winner Fraser Stoddart:
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Failing to include people from Asian, African, Latino and other non-European ancestries in DNA databases is causing errors in identification of disease genes


Over at Next Big Future:
Failing to include people from Asian, African, Latino and other non-European ancestries in DNA databases is causing errors in identification of disease genes.The Exome Aggregation Consortium, or ExAC, is a simple idea. It combines sequences for the protein-coding region of the genome — the exome — from more than 60,000 people into one database, allowing scientists to compare them and understand how variable they are. But the resource is having tremendous impacts in biomedical research. As well as helping scientists to toss out spurious disease–gene links, it is generating new discoveries. By looking more closely at the frequency of mutations in different populations, researchers can gain insight into what many genes do and how their protein products function...[more]

How a “seed library” is helping Ivorian farmers diversify their crops


Daniel Oulaï reports in Observers:
New ideas are sprouting from ancient seeds in Ivory Coast. In 2015, a seed library was founded in the city of Sangouiné. Traditional seeds are stored in the library, which has also become a space for young farmers to learn about eco-friendly agricultural techniques. But this small agricultural movement rooted in ancient practices runs counter to some of the policies that the Ivory Coast is adopting. Notably, authorities just gave the green light to the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
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Daniel Oulaï, 27, grew up in Sangouiné, a town in western Ivory Coast. He is passionate about integrating ecological processes into farming, a field called agroecology. Daniel founded this seed library in October 2015 with the help of Libraries Without Borders. Earlier that year, the NGO had called for applications from young people who had innovative ideas for how libraries could be re-imagined to better serve Africa. Daniel’s seed library project was one of the proposals chosen for sponsorship...[more]

Watch "Poverty Inc" - Fighting poverty is big business. But who profits the most?


A Documentary on aid and its effects
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"Nigeria’s Failed Promises" - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie #Nigeria


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the NYTimes:
I was 7 years old the first time I recognized political fear. My parents and their friends were talking about the government, in our living room, in our relatively big house, set on relatively wide grounds at a southeastern Nigerian university, with doors shut and no strangers present. Yet they spoke in whispers. So ingrained was their apprehension that they whispered even when they did not need to. It was 1984 and Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari was the military head of state...[more]

Colonial Sahara


Aubrey Bloomfield writing in Africa is a Country:
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Western Sahara serves as a powerful and timely reminder to the world that colonialism has not ended in Africa. It continues in the form of what the Sahrawi (the indigenous people of Western Sahara) activist Maty Mohamed-Fadel referred to as “the global shame” that is the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara...[more] src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>

Life is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara - Official Trailer from Cultures of Resistance Films on Vimeo.

Can we turn "any idle asset into a productive piece of capital"?


Ben Tarnoff in the Guardian:
Imagine life without ownership. You own nothing. You rent everything. You do this because it’s cheaper: you pay pennies or fractions of pennies per day to have a bed to sleep in, or a winter coat to keep you warm. You scale up or down as needed: maybe your partner moves in, so you swap your single bed for a queen, or winter ends, so you return your coat. You are always optimizing. You pay for precisely what you use, when you use it – and nothing more.

This is the consummate “sharing economy”, and it might be closer than you think.
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Victor Ekpuk - Artist


An AJ+ profile of Victor Ekpuk:
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“In Zambia, we import pencils,”


Lack of true productive growth haunts the continent.Jeffrey Gettleman reporting in the NYTimes

Sina University : A Self-Organized Refugee University in Uganda


Along the lines of other self-organized institutions.From the Social Innovation Academy:
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The Nakivale Refugee Settlement is one of the biggest refugee camps in the world and accommodates over 70,000 people. The majority are youth with very limited possibilities to go to school or take part in informal education. Nakivale is a dusty environment with high poverty. Because of instabilities, frequent coups overthrowing governments in the region of Eastern Africa, victims and perpetrators often live side by side in Nakivale and create immense tensions in the settlement. Life is a constant struggle and food rations from the United Nations are continuously being cut down. Many wait for resettlement to other countries but the chances are almost zero. However, some youth are using every available resource to create something that can improve their lives and are trying to defy the educational system because they are creating their own university in the refugee settlement! allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

Holistic approaches to education - The Saami University That Creates Indigenous Scientists


Over in the re-imagining education space. Hannah Hoag writes:
The Saami University of Applied Sciences takes a holistic approach to education that reflects traditional Saami livelihoods and culture. This Indigenous-led research is vital in a changing Arctic, says Saami Council leader Gunn-Britt Retter.
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Africa's De-Industrialization Crisis


Andrew Mwenda writing in the Independent:
President Yoweri Museveni’s stated objective is to transform Uganda from an agrarian to an industrial nation. He has been in power for 30 years, the period South Korea took to achieve that goal. Yet 80% of Ugandans still depend on agriculture for a livelihood; 68% as subsistence farmers. It seems realistic to blame Museveni for this as I used to do when I was still young and intelligent.

Now I have grown old and stupid. So I wonder: If Museveni is the reason manufacturing in Uganda has grown at a snail’s pace, what explains its failure across the rest of Sub-SaharanAfrica’s 47 countries? With the exception of Ethiopia, Africa is de-industrialising. Recent growth has been sustained by high commodity prices and services. There are more manufacturing jobs in Vietnam alone than the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa combined...[more]

Caleb Femi - Poet


A Guardian profile:
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The 26-year-old says he wants to use his role to ‘normalise poetry’ for disenfranchised young people and ‘show them how their voices can be heard’
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"Artists by their free expressions encourage others to be free".


From LightBox Africa:
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'The History Thieves' : How Britain covered up its Imperial Crimes


The Guardian reviews a book by Ian Cobain:
This engrossing study identifies secrecy as a ‘very British disease’, exploring how, as the empire came to an end, government officials burned the records of imperial rule
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The importance of Science Fiction to entrepreneurship


Ben Narasin writing for Techcrunch:
There are three types of science fiction (in my view): crap, serialized crap and hard-science science fiction. The last type contains a wealth of visions of the future, many of which we enjoy today, and is referenced in the names of, or has influenced, many tech startups and world-class entrepreneurs...[more]

The Role of Intuition in learning


An interview with Erica Kermani from J. Soto on Temporary Art Review:
For this series on alternative pedagogy I have been thinking about the role of intuition in learning. Specifically, how intuition is something that is undervalued or invisible when considering education. As a concept, intuition is difficult to pin down. What exactly is it? Is it to be trusted? If so, then in what contexts?
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Is Intellectual Property Dead?


From Singularity Hub
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Intellectual property laws from the 19th century were envisioned with roughly 20-year cycles, he said, which was enough to give you a head-start on a new idea or invention and attract funding to see it through. But how relevant is a 20-year cycle today when a generation of technology can come and go in a year—and even that is set to speed up? - Ray Kurzweil

Scientist Tracks the Movement and Evolution of Ancient Myths Across Continents


Emily Asher-Perrin writing in Tor:
“A Cosmic Hunt in the Berber Sky: A Phylogenetic Reconstruction of Palaeolithic Mythology”
Psychologist Carl Jung believed that many cultures across the globe produced similar myths due to a sort of unified subconscious, the idea that deep down in our collective psyche, we all embraced the same symbols in an effort to explain the world. But what if it were far more simple than that? What if these linked myths merely migrated along with the people who told them? One scientist has provided strong evidence to that tune, piecing together together a global mythic tapestry that is thousands of years in the making...[more]

Jojo Abot — Multimedia Artist


New Inc's Jojo Abbot in conversation with Okay Africa:
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We were first captivated by the hypnotic vocals of Ghanaian afro-soul and jazz singer Jojo Abot after she released the spellbinding video for “Hex” last summer. The heartwrenchingly cinematic clip introduced us to the vulnerable yet willful nature of Abot’s songwriting and it hinted at even greater things to come from the budding songstress. A little over a year later Abot has resurfaced with news of her soon-to-be-released debut EP ‘Fyfya Woto,’ from which she recently previewed two phenomenal tracks “Lom Vava” and “Aim Straight.” Abot’s is a familiar face within Ghana’s independent creative scene and in addition to her musical prowess, she moonlights as an actress, model and stylist. For the multi-faceted artist who feels most at home behind the microphone, this debut EP is her first cohesive body of work and we were excited to delve deeper into Jojo Abot’s world for our First Look Friday series. Read on for our Q&A with the rising songbird.
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